Allegations of bribery among the country’s police forces is so widespread that it is almost a truism. Yet this administrative chicanery pales in comparison to the systematic, day-to-day corruption that exists in all police stations across Karnataka.
A joint survey by the police department and the Public Affairs Centre, a non-governmental organisation, has made revelations that are now commonplace, but the findings provide an account of the culture of corruption in the State’s police force.
The survey has revealed that about 48 per cent of the staff in 1,020 police stations across six administrative ranges in the State demand bribes from complainants who, in turn, constitute 9 per cent of people willing to bribe the law enforcers.
Among the complainants, 30 per cent of those interviewed by the joint survey team said they bribe the police to speed up investigations, while another 20 per cent claimed that suspects would be arrested if they greased the palms of investigators.
The survey report was prepared after interviewing 20 complainants and five police staff in over 1,000 police stations, Director-General of Police Ajai Kumar Singh said here on Thursday while releasing the findings.
The survey was conducted to understand the police’s response toward the public, grievances among personnel and the level of people’s satisfaction with police performance.
Among the candid admissions the policemen made in the course of their interviews was that they used the bribe money to meet expenses involved in investigation processes.
While 70 per cent of the policemen said they utilised the bribes to pursue leads and meet other crime investigation-related expenditure, 20 of them admitted to using the tainted money for personal needs and about 10 per cent disclosed they took bribes for the upkeep and maintenance of police stations.
Singh said there was a general impression that people do not come forward to lodge complaints due to fear of the police. “But the truth is quite different,” he said, buttressing his claims with statistics that suggest that 70 per cent of people visit police stations to lodge complaints “with confidence.” Of these, nearly 42 per cent lack the understanding and knowledge involving filing first information reports or complaints. And yet the same statistics the survey threw up indicate that the average bribe amount given and taken at every police station is Rs 2,100. While a police station in the Northern Range takes Rs 3,600, one in the Eastern Division takes Rs 920.
Singh did not indicate that poor pay could be one of the reasons for subordinate-level policemen taking bribes. But he did admit that many serving low-ranked officers and constables work under tremendous pressure. “Some of them are unable to avail of their leave,” Singh said, adding that policemen serving in the West and South divisions of Bangalore perform better in comparison to their counterparts in other divisions.